The other day one of my coworkers decided he was craving Thai food for lunch and he dragged me along for the ride. It was one of those rare, serendipitous days when I had forgotten my lunch, only to find that I had $6 all crumbled together with an old receipt in my jacket pocket (don't you love it when you switch jackets or purses and find MONEY???). Normally I would have squirreled away the funds for another day, but I couldn't exactly go the whole day on one cup of yogurt & some almonds without slipping into a faint, so I splurged and went for a small yellow curry with veggies & tofu. There went my $6 (which was a painful reminder of how much it can cost to go out to lunch on a regular basis) but I was rewarded with a generous amount of delicious, aromatic curry with plenty of tender veggies, and an even more generous amount of white rice on the side. Seriously, there was about twice as much rice as there was curry! Since I don't really eat white rice that often when it's all by itself, I was sorta bummed that I only used about 1/4 cup of it to go with my curry. But I don't like to waste food, especially not when it's scary bare bones time, so I brought the remaining rice home and figured the inspiration to use it in something else might strike at some point.
Anyway, when I got home yesterday the cats were all up in my stuff because it was dinner time for them, so when I opened the fridge they did their usual time-for-mommy-to-give-us-dinner dance. This usually includes chirping and trilling by Hana and a breakout solo dance by StuKitty, which featured said cat standing on his hind legs trying to stick his face in the remainder of my Swiss chard ("Stuart the Cat Morales, stay AWAY from my Swiss chard!!!" is commonly heard in Poor Girl's kitchen) and knocking over some asparagus. For once, I thanked my youngest and most terrible furbaby for going through my produce because I had honestly forgotten that I had any fresh asparagus at all! Though I had a package of frozen asparagus spears from TJ's, I much prefer fresh asparagus and thought it would make the perfect addition to my lonely leftover rice.
This dish is super easy to prepare, with the most prep time devoted to cracking & beating the eggs and chopping the scallions, so it's definitely a great busy weeknight dish. It's the perfect way to recycle those rice leftovers that you might have hanging around after a weekend of Chinese takeout, and lends itself perfectly to easy work lunches. I made mine super Po' Girl style and used leftover takeout soy sauce packets (where DID my bottle of soy sauce go anyway?), which goes to show that you can still make great food even if you think you're missing ingredients. The addition of asparagus not only adds flavor, but much-valued nutrition as well. Want to up the protein factor? Throw in some stir-fried tofu and between that and the eggs you'll be set. One last note: if I had the money to afford sesame oil on a regular basis I would definitely use it, but since I don't, I refrain from throwing it in there. HOWEVER, if you have it, use it; it truly makes a difference in the authenticity of the flavor. But if you don't have it on hand, don't worry! This is still super yummy as written. And now, on with the show!
Quick & Easy Fried Rice with Asparagus (makes 3 servings; total cost per serving: $1.05)
2 c cooked white rice
1/2 c frozen mixed vegetables
3 eggs, lightly beaten
8 asparagus spears, chopped into 1" pieces
4 scallions, chopped
2 T plus 1 t cooking oil
3-4 T soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 c well-salted water (for blanching)
Heat 1 teaspoon of cooking oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook until light, fluffy, and no longer moist. Set aside. In the meantime, boil the salted water for the asparagus. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the asparagus and blanch for about 1 minute at the most. Drain and put the asparagus in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
In a larger skillet, heat the remaining oil and add the garlic. Heat until fragrant and add the rice and frozen veggies. Cook until the veggies are thawed and the rice no longer clumps together. Add the fried egg and soy sauce and mix together well, followed by the asparagus. Finally, add the chopped scallions.
Garnish with extra chopped scallions and soy sauce, serve with your favorite protein or on its own, and enjoy!